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Inverness Caley Thistle fans puzzled after unmanned camera followed linesman's head and not ball

By Louise Glen

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Linesman is main focus for auto-cam.
Linesman is main focus for auto-cam.

INVERNESS football fans were tearing their hair out after a robot camera took a shine to a linesman’s bald napper instead of following the ball.

Last Saturday’s Inverness Caley Thistle v Ayr United match (drawn 1-1) was for the first time being covered by TV on a pay per view basis, organised by the SPFL with a hi-tech unmanned camera being used which is programmed to remain focused on the light-coloured match ball.

Unfortunately the robot Pixellot camera became confused as main stand-side official John McCrossan ran the line with the autumn sun bouncing off his gleaming pate.

As a result, some of the action was missed, including the build-up to Ayr’s goal.

This took the gloss off the launch of ICT TV, set up in response to fans being barred from the stadium due to Covid rules. PPV was open to season ticket holders, and those who paid a one-off £10 fee.

At full-time, many fans hit the club’s Facebook page to deliver their criticism of the faulty footage, with some demanding wigs or hats for baldy match officials.

The angry feedback included – “Ditch the terrible automated camera and get a human to film our next home match. Only saw the ball for half the match. Also get any bald linesman to wear a hat or wig in future as the automated camera thought his head was the ball too often,” and “Automated camera focusing on the linesman’s head was really annoying. The camera should be on the other side to avoid the glare.”

The match commentator did confirm to fans that the camera was being duped by Mr McCrossan’s gleaming baldness, causing it to pan away from the ball, and he apologised to the viewers.

A spokesperson for the SPFL said: “We are aware of a few brief instances of wandering cameras and have been assured by Pixellot that they are working to fix it.”

Local sports journalist Paul Chalk, who writes a weekly football blog, said: “Hopefully things will be better for the visit of Arbroath next Saturday.

“To be fair, Caley Thistle’s were merely the unlucky host club. ICT are an SPFL side, so must do as they say.”

An ICT spokesman said: With new technology, there can be teething problems. The SPFL have given assurances that stakeholders and camera specialists Pixellot are working to achieve a quick solution to the slight hiccups to our first live streaming ever.

“On the streaming front everything seems to have gone very well considering it was a first, with over 1600 people successfully accessing the game and being able to cheer the Caley Jags on to a comeback from the comfort of home.”

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